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Fantasy basketball tips and betting picks for Thursday

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ESPN’s fantasy basketball and basketball betting tips cheat sheet is your pregame destination for basketball betting predictions and our best intel and data, featuring ESPN’s proprietary Basketball Power Index (BPI) to help you make smart fantasy and wagering decisions. NBA game odds for Feb. 9 are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is based on ESPN 10-team leagues.


What you need to for Thursday’s games

The NBA truly doesn’t sleep. In the wake of last night’s blockbuster that sent Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns and Mikal Bridges and a bevy of picks to the Brooklyn Nets, fantasy managers are tasked with assessing the fallout of such a significant transaction.

The main statistical beneficiary of this deal might just be the most popular name of the week, Brooklyn’s Cam Thomas (56% available in ESPN leagues). The Nets are likely to stick with Thomas — league’s hottest scorer at the moment — as a premier perimeter threat from the backcourt. Spencer Dinwiddie is also due for a big workload in the weeks ahead. Given Brooklyn’s incredible surplus of “3-and-D” wings after completing two massive deals in the past few days, it’s possible more trading on Thursday provides roster balance.

Phoenix will be remarkably undermanned at the wing until Durant debuts after the All-Star break, which could mean interim value for the likes of Damion Lee (99% available) and Dario Saric (99%), as the short-handed Suns face the Atlanta Hawks tonight. Both have proven capable of producing when called on.

The Raptors have been thought of as pivotal sellers ahead of today’s deadline, and that still might prove true, but Wednesday’s reacquisition of Jakob Poeltl suggests they still have plans to remain competitive. Poeltl’s fantasy stock rises in Toronto, as their strong perimeter defense should funnel shots his way at the rim.

Tonight’s slate is defined by such roster shuffling, as Brooklyn’s Thomas and Nic Claxton are key DFS building blocks against the Chicago Bulls while the Suns’ skeleton crew provides several streaming options. More deals are undoubtedly on the way today. As any hoops coach would advise, keep your head on a swivel.

— Jim McCormick


Breaking down Thursday’s slate

Denver Nuggets at Orlando Magic
7 p.m. ET, Amway Center, Orlando, Florida

Records (Against the Spread)
Nuggets: 38-17 (29-25-1)
Magic: 22-33 (31-22-2)

Line: Nuggets (-6)
BPI Projection: Nuggets (121.3-116.7)
Money Line: Nuggets (-250), Magic (+205)
BPI Projected winner: Nuggets (66.2%)
Total: 232 points BPI Projected Total: 238 points

Injury Report:
Nuggets: Jamal Murray, (GTD – Knee); Zeke Nnaji, (GTD – Shoulder)
Magic: Gary Harris, (GTD – Groin); Mo Bamba, (OUT – Suspension)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Markelle Fultz (rostered in 46% of ESPN leagues). Fultz still isn’t much of an outside shooter and perhaps he never will be, but Orlando’s point guard has topped 40 fantasy points in two of five games, and his minutes and shots appear safe at this point. Denver’s Jamal Murray is questionable with a knee injury, but even if he plays, Fultz should deliver. — Eric Karabell

Best bet: Aaron Gordon over 26.5 points+ assists + rebounds. I will buy into the revenge game narrative since Gordon was acquired by the Magic in March 2021. This season, Gordon averages 16.9 points, 2.9 assists, and 6.7 rebounds. The Magic rank 18th in points allowed per 100 possessions. Orlando also allows opponents an effective field goal percentage of 55.2%. — Eric Moody

Best bet: Michael Porter Jr. over 17.5 points. Porter has stepped up as a scorer of late, particularly with Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray taking turns missing games. Porter has averaged 20.6 PPG in his last seven outings, going over 17.5 points in five of those seven, including the last three games in a row. — Andre Snellings


Phoenix Suns at Atlanta Hawks
7:30 p.m. ET, State Farm Arena, Atlanta, Georgia

Records (Against the Spread)
Suns: 30-26 (30-26-0)
Hawks: 27-28 (24-29-2)

Line: Hawks (-7)
BPI Projection: Hawks: 122.3-113.9
Money Line: Suns (+222), Hawks (-278)
BPI Projected winner: Hawks (77.6%)
Total: 228.5 BPI Projected Total: 236.2

Injury Report:
Suns: Devin Booker, (OUT – Groin); T.J. Warren, (OUT – Not Injury Related); Cameron Payne, (OUT – Foot); Kevin Durant, (OUT – Knee); Landry Shamet, (OUT – Foot)
Hawks: None reported
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Damion Lee (available in 99.0% of leagues) could be in for a big night on Thursday, by default. With Devin Booker joining Cameron Payne and Landry Shamet on the sidelines, and newly acquired Kevin Durant and T.J. Warren not yet on the team to replace their traded away frontcourt, the Suns will be incredibly thin on Thursday. They will need a perimeter scorer next to Chris Paul, and Lee could fill that role. Lee has scored at least 15 points in three of his four starts this season and had a six-game stretch in January where he averaged 17.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.7 APG and 2.5 3PG in 29.8 MPG. — Snellings

Best bet: Trae Young over 9.5 assists. Young averages 10 APG on the season and he has reached double digits in six of seven games, including 16 in his most recent contest. The Suns will be shorthanded for this game after their big Kevin Durant trade, but it shouldn’t stop Young from doing his passing thing. — Karabell

Best bet: Bogdan Bogdanovic over 2.5 total 3pt field goals. On Thursday’s slate, I’m drawn to this prop bet at plus odds. Bogdanovic will benefit from the Suns being shorthanded against the Hawks. This season, he has averaged 2.8 triples per game. — Moody

Best bet: Chris Paul over 26.5 points + assists. Over the last five games, Paul’s points and assists have gone back and forth like a pendulum. That being said, he has a good chance to thrive against the Hawks, who rank 20th in points allowed per 100 possessions. Since Cameron Johnson and Kevin Durant are unlikely to play in this game after the blockbuster trade, Paul should see significant usage. — Moody

Trend: The Atlanta Hawks are most comfortable when the scoreboard is being lit up and that doesn’t change against slower teams: overs are 10-7 when they face a bottom-10 pace opponent. That’s fine news for the Phoenix Suns … they are 17-9 ATS this season when they play in a game that goes over the number. — Soppe


Chicago Bulls at Brooklyn Nets
7:30 p.m. ET, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York

Records (Against the Spread)
Bulls: 26-28 (30-24-0)
Nets: 32-22 (29-25-0)

Line: Nets (-1)
BPI Projection: Nets: 122.3-114.1
Money Line: Bulls (-105), Nets (-115)
BPI Projected winner: Nets (62.5%)
Total: 228 BPI Projected Total: 231.6

Injury Report:
Bulls: Alex Caruso, (GTD – Foot); DeMar DeRozan, (GTD – Hip); Patrick Williams, (GTD – Ankle); Javonte Green, (OUT – Knee); Lonzo Ball, (OUT – Knee)
Nets: Day’Ron Sharpe, (GTD – Foot); Yuta Watanabe, (GTD – Back); Cameron Johnson, (OUT – Not Injury Related); Jae Crowder, (OUT – Not Injury Related); Mikal Bridges, (OUT – Not Injury Related); Seth Curry, (OUT – Thigh)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Cam Thomas (available in 50.2% of leagues) has quickly become one of the most rostered players in the game, for obvious reason. It feels like cheating to have him in this space after he’s scored 40+ in three straight, but he’s still available in just over half of leagues, so if he’s out there in your league make sure you roster him as quickly as you can. — Snellings

Best bet: Nikola Vucevic over 20.5 points. Chicago’s center has topped 20 points in five of six games, and he is averaging 21 PPG since the beginning of January. Brooklyn has a bunch of new players but, as of this writing, center Nik Claxton remains, but his presence shouldn’t stop Vucevic, who also has hit multiple 3-pointers in four of six games, from reaching 21 points. — Eric Karabell

Trend: How exactly the new look Brooklyn Nets operate is yet to be determined, but sportsbooks have underrated their abilities at home of late (they’ve covered eight of their past 11). The Chicago Bulls is just 9-12-1 ATS in games with a spread of three or fewer points this season, so while the public will likely be out on the starless Nets (unless “February Cam Thomas” counts), this could be an interesting buying point.– Soppe


Milwaukee Bucks at Los Angeles Lakers
10 p.m. ET, Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, California

Records (Against the Spread)
Bucks: 37-17 (29-22-3)
Lakers: 25-30 (24-29-2)

Line: Bucks (-6)
BPI Projection: Lakers (119.8-119.7)
Money Line: Bucks (-250), Lakers (+205)
BPI Projected winner: Lakers (50.4%)
Total: 240 points BPI Projected Total: 239.5 points

Injury Report:
Bucks: Brook Lopez, (GTD – Illness); Giannis Antetokounmpo, (GTD – Knee); Bobby Portis, (OUT – Knee); Joe Ingles, (OUT – Rest); Serge Ibaka, (OUT – Personal)
Lakers: Anthony Davis, (GTD – Foot); D’Angelo Russell, (GTD – Personal); Jarred Vanderbilt, (GTD – Back); LeBron James, (GTD – Ankle); Malik Beasley, (OUT – Not Injury Related)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Giannis Antetokounpo over 47.5 total points + rebounds. Antetokounmpo has averaged 39.7 PPG and 15.0 RPG in his last six outings, only going under 47.5 total points and rebounds in one of those games. He’ll be facing a Lakers squad in the midst of a lot of chaos at the moment, from LeBron passing the all-time scoring record to a huge trade to several key players being listed on the injury report. I look for Giannis to have another huge effort on Thursday night. — Snellings

Trend: The Lakers are a popular team, so whenever they are getting a bunch of points, it’s noteworthy. They are 5-10-1 ATS this season when getting more than six points with over tickets cashing in nine of those games. Did somebody say points? Overs are 11-6 when the Milwaukee Bucks are favored by more than six points this season … we aren’t there yet but could very easily get there should LeBron take a personal day (and, of course, Giannis plays).– Soppe

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